Driving down Vernon Street in Downtown Los Angeles, it is hard to miss the vibrant children, pigs, and cows all residing harmoniously on fields of grass. A brown barn has a billboard with the words “Farmer John Fair” and a white cross perched on its zenith.
This scene is depicted on murals surrounding Farmer John’s factory walls where inside pigs are being slaughtered, processed, and packaged into what you see on your typical grocery market refrigerated section; hot dogs, ham, bacon, sausage, and spam.
These places of business where meat packing occurs are a cause of worry to many animal rights activists who believe in a non-violent, vegan lifestyle. The Save Movement is just one of the many passionate groups that were enacted as an act of resistance against the meat industry which has a history or treating their animals cruelly. It’s reached spans all around the world with over two hundred groups or chapters based across Canada, the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Australia, Continental Europe, Hong Kong, and South America banding together to bear witness of pigs, cows, chickens and other farmed animals on their way to be slaughtered.
At every vigil, there are people with pro-vegan signs that state “meat is murder” or “which is worse” next to the image of a dog and pig in an effort to make obvious the purpose of fifty people standing on street sidewalks during odd hours to the cars passing curiously by. There are always people with cameras documenting the true conditions of the animals hoping to expose the world to the truth. There are compassionate individuals equipped with hoses, reusable water bottles, and even in one case stilts offering water and a gentle hand.
Los Angeles has one of the largest Animal Save chapters, which was started by Amy Jean Davis. Her boyfriend Shaun Monson, also a champion vegan, created and directed the documentary Earthlings. After getting his film rejected by many film festivals he posted it on the internet for free in 2005. The documentary outlined our society’s dependence on animals for economic purposes presented in five chapters pets, food, clothing, entertainment and scientific research.
As a vegan for over twenty years, Shaun has never shielded himself from the unvarnished truth of how humans tend to belittle animal lives if there is a more present desire, taste, or luxury that can be bought at their sacrifice. He supports people of all ages and backgrounds to bear witness “regularly because you should be two feet away from an animal. You should smell it. You should touch it. I think it makes things very immediate and proves how critically urgent it is to see the true conditions of the animals and look into their eyes.”
He laughs talking about how people badger him with questions wondering why he continuous to return to the vigils week after week when he has already seen so much footage then simply states that it is because “it recharges you.” Every terror-stricken eye, bloody infected wound, and animal that accepts the water you’re pouring into its dehydrated mouth is an inspiration to persist in the fight.
Joseph Bowman who has been frequenting the vigils for over a couple months is a strong supporter of “black lives matters, feminism, prisoner rights, and equal access to education” but is mostly involved in the animal rights movement participating as an organizer for Direct Action Everywhere: Los Angeles. DxE tends to use slightly more brash tactics that can be viewed as untactful when calling for animal liberation by holding disruptions in front of certain businesses.
Bowman explained, “the idea of disruptions is to go into a place that normalizes violence against animals and to try to challenge that. We’ll hold signs, usually, someone will speak out on behalf of the animals, and then we will chant and things like that. The idea isn’t to convert any one person there to be vegan immediately, the idea is just to spread awareness of the issue of speciesism in general. Speciesism is discrimination against animals it’s like racism or sexism just for all species.”
The idea of speciesism is not accepted by the masses, for some reason equating the value of a person’s life with the value of a pig’s life is quite unheard of in our current day. This is drastically different from the times of indigenous people, there was a more evident mutual respect between humans and nature’s resources that insured their survival.
Sunshine Jennings, a senior at Da Vinci Communications, stated, “Realistically the animal is already dead so I don’t know I would just rather eat it. Everyone would have to stop for it to make a difference, but I don’t think anyone cares enough.”
All over the world activists are coming together to try and enact positive changes in an injustice that they feel passionate about.
Melanie Light is a proponent vegan activist who helped start an Animal Save Chapter in her hometown of Bristol, England. She has used her career in the cinematic industry and creative talents to skillfully execute moving films and art-pieces that aim to make people aware of the severity of the mistreatment and slaughtering of animals.
Light became Vegan while doing research for the short film she created called The Herd. Its premise follows a group of women trapped in cages who are impregnated, milked, and have their babies taken away from them. The women portrayed in the film are just being used as an analogy to the treatment of female cows.
Since then, she has shown her dedication to being vegan and The Save Movement by attending vigils even, “in the winter when there was hardly anyone. There were times where there’d be only like two or three of us with our signs, but we were still stood there and documented what we could.”
Without any need for recognition allies chose to spend their weekend trying to spread love to animals whose lives have been robbed of it. Without regard for one’s self-personal safety, everyone in attendance was willing to stand in front of a quite large intimidating truck if it had to be done.
Having people around you who are strongly passionate about a like-minded interest can be the beginning of great change. “If you are vegan and you feel a bit lost or a bit lonely join your local Facebook pages, join the local animal rights groups, there are so many different organizations that adhere to varying interests,” Light advised.
If you aren’t vegan do your research. Educate yourself on where what you are consuming comes from. Maybe repeat “it’s not food its violence or It’s not fashioned its violence” some typical DxE chants in your head.